COP26 Special: Why COP26 matters to us all

Posted: 01 November 2021, in News

In the lead up to and during the COP26 event in Glasgow and Climate Fringe we’re featuring green social enterprises to promote their inspiring work in tackling the climate emergency. This week we hear from Clean Water Wave CIC – take part in the conversation on social media with the hashtags #GreenSocEnt and #COP26.

Clean Water Wave has, for the past four years, worked hard to develop a solution for water treatment that is as low energy and sustainable as possible. Our reasons for this are three fold. 

Firstly we didn’t see anything operating in rural, low income communities that delivered great drinking water and worked long term. Secondly there is a huge requirement for low carbon, efficient, and circular economy engineering and we haven’t seen much innovation coming to market from the usual players. 

In addition pollution on land ends up in our oceans and the combination of toxic forever chemicals and plastics is causing devastating impact on our seas. Removing and reducing this pollution from our environment, and developing low carbon and circular economy approaches to product design, will help safeguard our oceans – our primary mechanism for the production of oxygen and the sequestration of CO2.

The COP26 meetings come at a pivotal time for our planet. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released this summer, is unequivocal and damning: climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying. It is man made, and the window of opportunity to reduce emissions and resurrect biodiversity is closing.

In other words, we need to act now. Social enterprises can, I believe, play a galvanising role in finding, developing and scaling solutions to help us all on our path to a sustainable future. They are rooted in the community and doing purposeful business. I think it is our duty to see a step-change in all of our work with regards to a net zero future.

We need to grasp the nettle and pave the way. Practically, that means taking a look at every aspect of our business and seeing where and how we can improve our work to promote a greener way of doing things. Yes, working from home negates the commute and is an obvious place to start to reduce carbon footprint, but how else can we have an impact?

I would suggest, if you’re involved in any kind of production, that every element of the supply chain needs to be looked at. How can you use something more sustainable, more local? This may be more costly – can your customer absorb this? Can you replace one material for another to promote recycle and reuse? Can you work closely with another company or social enterprise to use byproducts for something useful? Can you encourage staff to not use single use plastic?

If you’re hosting an event, how can you make this is pollution-free as possible? If you’re outsourcing any work, can you find a company that is similar aligned with your climate action? Even asking that question to a potential contractor will, I think, prompt positive action.

I’ve recently had the privilege of interviewing a range of innovators and climate-focussed businesses as part of a series called ‘Unlocking Net Zero’, and the podcasts and associated interviews are well worth a listen if you’re keen to find out what’s going on in Scotland.

COP26 won’t be attended by most of us, even virtually, but whilst the core events are aimed specifically at creating global policy change, I believe COP26 has to be the catalyst for prompting all of us to say, how can I improve my work to benefit the planet? Collective action will lead to lasting change.

Stephanie Terreni Brown, Clean Water Wave CIC